News: Females in flight: All-girls flight school visits MCAS Hawaii
Story by Cpl. Sarah Dietz
MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII - The Pacific Aviation Museum’s Advanced Flight School for Girls visited Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, July 10, to learn about the aviation field.
The group of middle school girls learned the ins and outs of the field, including safety with Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting personnel, a visit to the control tower with Air Traffic Control, flying simulators and touring actual aircraft on the MCAS flightline.
The girls previously attended the museum’s Basic Flight School for girls, a three-day program which is set in a classroom. The program grew so popular; the museum added the advanced school for the students interested in learning more about the field.
The AFS is a three-day camp, where the girls slept on the USS Missouri in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and was an opportunity for girls to not only learn about aviation, but also the military.
“The purpose was to expose the girls to all things aviation. These girls came to this school because they wanted to do something more,” said Shauna Tonkin, director of education at the museum. “It's close to my heart to introduce this broad field of aviation. It incorporates history, science and math.”
Anna Wood, 12-year-old attendee, was introduced to aviation at the school. Flying became a passion for her.
“I fly gliders now, I’m working on getting my gliders license at 14,” Wood said. “I want to be in the military and fly, I want to be a pilot.”
Women comprise a minority in military aviation. The school is intended to introduce flying to the young girls as a career path, and to break the presumption it is a man’s field of work.
“I want them to see it's not about gender, it’s about ability. I’m the only female in my crew and I can do any job my male counterparts can do. I love it,” said Sgt. Mary Shloss, loadmaster for the C-20 Gulfstream, MCAS. “Females are the minority; it’s a good way for us to show that strong image to them. It’s kind of the reason why I’m doing what I do; I can be a stronger image for other female Marines.”
“Aviation is out there for them too,” said Tracy Kinney, volunteer chaperone with the program. “There’s a perception it’s a male’s field, it’s not.”
Aviation was introduced to the girls in a hands-on format to allow them to understand the challenges and benefits to the occupation.
“They get to see it in action, they can picture themselves in (aviation) instead of hearing someone talk about it,” Kinney said. “The fact that they aren’t shy and can go out and do this is awesome. It’s a cool way to share history and flight.”